This entry would not be possible without Kim and the use of her laptop. So I dedicate this entry to her.
OK!!!!!! For those of you who have been pestering me on Facebook, I need to make this clear: I do NOT have internet at my house. As in I can’t check my emails/go on Facebook whenever I want. And yes it’s a problem, our program director is going to try to get internet up and running at the houses of the people who don’t have it (most people in the program do have it). Until then, I have no idea how often I’ll be able to update this blog…
Besides not having Internet and going through Facebook withdrawal, I am finally writing to you from Spain (on Kim’s laptop)! I’ve been here a little over a week and I’m starting to orient myself around Malaga. I’m not sure exactly what neighborhood I live in, it’s my understanding I live on the border of El Palo and El Pedregalejo. It’s about a 25 min. bus ride from the city center aka El Centro and the buses run pretty frequently which is nice.
I take classes at this branch building of the University of Malaga (known as UMA) called Cursos Para Extranjeros. After taking the bus into El Centro, it’s about a 8-10 minute walk (depending on how fast you walk and cross streets before the lights change) to the building. I take 4 classes there and will be taking a 5th course at the Teatinos campus/main campus of UMA. With our tutorial groups, we all visited the campus this week (you need to take another bus line once you reach el centro, so overall it’s about a 45 minute ride to Teatinos from El Palo). Apparently the campus is pretty new but is under construction. It’s very spread out and a lot bigger than Dickinson. I’m not sure if anybody really liked the campus and while it may not be the prettiest, I have definitely seen uglier. I mean honestly, if you have ever seen SUNY Purchase, you know what I’m talking about.
I’ve already visited Ronda and Granada and we have more excursions planned for the group throughout the semester. If you google Ronda, you can probably seen pictures of the bridges that are built over a sheer drop over this ravine. You’ll also probably get pictures of bullfighting and the bullfighting arena. We were there on the first day of the “feria”, this weeklong fiesta in Ronda. While we didn’t get to actually see the bullfight, we did get to watch the procession of toreadors on their horses and the ladies in their costumes enter the arena. I was totally fine with not watching the bulls bleed to death… I saw one when I was in Sevilla four years ago and that was enough to last me forever.
Ronda was pretty crazy, with everybody crowded in these plazas drinking and dancing flamenco in the streets. I know it’s probably easier to see with the pictures I took, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post those up on Facebook. I also bought these muffin like things from the Carmelite nuns. Apparently this order of nuns take a vow of never being seen… which I think is pretty depressing. They stay inside their convent with the blinds drawn all day and can only go out for specific reasons (like medical appointmens and the like). If you want to buy one of their candies, you talk to them through this turning window in which you put money for your choice of sweets. They take your money and then give you the muffins or whatever it was you picked through the window.
In Granada, I think we visited a Cathedral…. I’m not too sure, I’ve visited a lot of Cathedrals/churches and so have a lot of the other Dickinson people. I think it is safe to say we are all tired of Catholic buildings. A cathedral is basically the same wherever you go, it is big and dark with a bajillion columns supporting the roof and there are a million statues of Mary or Jesus on the cross. The only difference are the names/Saints they are dedicated to.
We did get to see where Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand were buried (the monarchs who financed Christopher Columbus’s voyage to discover “America” though we all know it really wasn’t the USA he ended up discovering) and their daughter Juana La Loca and son-in-law Felipe El Hermoso. Poor Juana went loca because her husband died while she was still young. Apparently she was so grief stricken, she wasn’t able to rule for very long before she was sent off to the convent. We weren’t allowed to take pictures where they were buried though.
The main focus of the trip was La Alhambra, remains of the palaces of where the Arab Nazari family used to rule and where I think Carlos V had a summer palace. I can’t even begin to describe La Alhambra because it is so big and we spent a lot of time walking around with our tour guide (this trip completely drained us). It is absolutely gorgeous with all these fountains and courtyards and all these details on the walls of these hallways and corridors. I don’t have a great camera so I don’t think my pictures will have done the Alhambra justice when I finally get them up on FB. Again, if you really care to see pictures, Google is always a good resource.
In Malaga, we’ve visited the Alcazaba, which I think are more remains of palaces that the Nazari family used to own. It was sort of like the Alhambra on a much smaller scale with a really nice view of the Meditteranean. We also inevitably visited the Cathedral of Malaga… which I won’t bother describing since I think I’ve made it perfectly clear what I feel about visiting cathedrals.
We have more trips scheduled for Antequerra, Sevilla, Madrid, Cordoba and there may be more but that’s all I can remember off the top of my head. We also are going to see the Picasso Museum (Malaga is the birthplace of Picasso) in the next week or so for our art class.
My host mother (who I will just call P) is very nice and I love her food, but nothing compares to my dad’s cooking. For those of you who have been lucky enough to try it, I think you can understand why. Dad, if you are reading this, don’t let the praise go to your head. 😛 Anyways lunch is the biggest meal in Spain, consisting of a salad, a main course, and then dessert. Yesterday P. gave me a slice of watermelon about the size of the Great Wall of China and I felt bad because there was no way I was going to finish the whole thing. I am very fortunate dinner is not a big to do and usually just a sandwhich and yogurt.
I have a host brother as well but I never see him that much… I see more international students than the family I live with. My host mother rents out her rooms (which seem to be a lot) to foreign students learning Spanish, which is exactly what my French grandparents did for many years. I know that P’s brother lives behind the house in an apartment and I’m not too sure why, but the two dogs that live in the house are obsessed with him. When he comes into the house, they go nuts and follow him around the way my own dog follows around my father. The other day he left for a few minutes to go buy something and left them in the house. I was left with two inconsolable dogs, honestly it was like somebody had died…. As soon as he came back, they resumed their fiesta of Antonio worship.
I live close to the beach though apparently there are nicer beaches in Marbella. I often see these big barges out on the horizon; I think Malaga has a very busy port. I seem to remember someone telling me about the Malaga harbor… either a family member or family friend, can’t remember which.
Anyways I think this entry is pretty long and if you haven’t read all of it, that’s ok, but just get used to long entries. I don’t know when I’ll be able to get online again for so long and I do no want to hog Kim’s computer every week either. I will try to send you a postcard soon if you’ve left me your address on Facebook.